Exclusive Interview: Ryan Crosson
Late last year we had a chat with Ryan Crosson, one of the founding members of Visionquest, the outfit who came through during the late 2000s with a host of other contemporary artists, all of whom helped to push house and techno back into the public domain after a few years of what some call a ‘recession’. As it’s been a little while since that interview, we caught up with him for a short chat to find out more about one third of the mighty Visionquest…
How hard was it now you look back to transition from a young man in Detroit to a globally recognised star who is hugely in demand?
The transition from being in my hometown to living abroad and being able to live from my passion has definitely had it’s up and down moments. What helped the most was being a part of a tight-knit group of friends who really cared about each other and had a common goal in mind. We just kept at it and kept at it. I don’t think too many people in Detroit were crazy about us but we kept going and made the right move at the right time to get to Berlin. Shaun was already there, way ahead of the curve, and more friends were also living in Berlin when we decided to move. We were also fortunate enough to link up with the people from CDV and Watergate, both of which sort of became our homebases when it came to clubs. Having that support group was such a huge factor in being comfortable in a new city and new country, especially when gigs were slow to get going.
You seem like one of the more introvert members of Visionquest – is that fair? How do you like interacting with fans and crowds? Is it forced or do you enjoy it?
I wouldn’t say I’m introverted at all. I like meeting people under most circumstances. But when I’m DJing I’m there to play music, not to perform theatrics to entertain people and make a spectacle. I think DJing on a stage is one of the most awkward feelings I’ve ever had. There’s much less interaction with a stage. I prefer to be on the ground with the people or maybe 4 inches off the ground so you can see on the floor bit. When you’re on the ground or just a bit above, you’re dancing with people. You’re seeing them eye to eye and you’re in the moment with them and they are in the moment with you and the connection exists. That’s fun. That’s what it’s about.
Some people wish they could be a DJ OR a producer, one or the other, would you agree? Do you have a preference for one over the other, does DJing get in the way of making music?
Mmm. I wouldn’t agree. You can do both OR you can be one or the other. In the end it’s up to you. I know this is a common thought throughout the dance music community or at least I’ve heard it a few times. I’m sure most people don’t care about such a label. Most times someone says something like that, they’re trying to put someone down or take away from their performance or something to make themselves feel better for whatever reason. Who cares really? You can’t control how people label you, so you shouldn’t worry about it. Just go do what you do. As for the second part of the question: I love them both equally. The travel can get in the way of making music for sure and so can going over new music and searching for vinyl. Obsessing over kick drum tuning and arrangements can get in the way of finding new tracks or listening at the record store. If you manage your time properly, it’s normally not a problem to do both. It also depends on a person’s moods, habits and health. If you go out and get wrecked on the weekend and stay up til Monday morning. You won’t be making music until Wednesday most likely. If you do, you probably won’t be at your best.
Who are you making your music for? Have you an audience in mind when you produce? Or a dance floor, or a club, or a girl?
When a track gets started I’m not thinking, “Ok, dance floor bomb. Really heavy. Or let’s make something for this club, or this label or this demographic of clubbers”. I just sit down to work and then, in a little while, I see where the track is going.
How much has your personal life suffered because of being a DJ? Are you able to put down roots, have relationships etc? Do you even want to?
Yes. Happily married!!!! It used to be harder when the relationship was long distance. Now we work as best as we can with each other’s schedules.
What can people expect from you and the label in the rest of 2015? And what about gigs-wise, will you do any big ambitious tours again?
I’m really pleased with the direction we’re headed in for both the label and future showcases. In April we released our 50th vinyl EP which is a special landmark for us. Shaun Reeves & Tuccilo put together two timeless originals and Dorian Paic has a remixed one as well. After Shaun, I’ll be following him with a three track EP and then Lee will follow me. The boys and I have been a bit slow on our own original output over the past few years and I’m happy to see that we’re focusing a bit more on our own tunes instead of just doing remixes. In addition, we’ll continue moving forward with our vinyl-only Visionquest Special Edition releases. Gig-wise for Visionquest we are really starting to focus on 2016. It will mark our fifth anniversary of the label and we will be trying to organize a string of events. Some after-hours, some open air during the day, some festival showcases, some warehouse events. Hopefully our artists will be on board for our ideas and it will be a great year of celebration.
After all those years on the road, what keeps you enthused? Why do you get up in the morning? What excites you most and why?
I love what I do.
Words: Nicole Barton